First in the Home
If a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. (Titus 1:6)
Paul left Titus on Crete to find, appoint, and train leaders for the churches in the many towns and villages across the island. Paul told Titus to look for men of character, and this verse describes the family life of a man of character.
First, the man of godly character is the husband of one wife. The idea behind this phrase is not that a man must be married to be qualified for leadership in the church. We know that both Jesus and the Apostle Paul were both unmarried men, and certainly they had the character to be leaders in God’s work.
More literally, the idea of husband of one wife is that the man of godly character is a “one-woman man.” He has his focus on one woman – his wife, or his future wife. Simply said, the Biblical leader is not a playboy, an adulterer, or a flirt. He does not show romantic or sexual interest in other women, including the images of women in pornography.
We live in a day when this standard for leaders seems more difficult than ever to fulfill, but God’s measure does not change. We should pray that God would give us leaders who are truly the husband of one wife, and pray that they would by God’s power remain one-woman men.
Paul gives another measure of a man’s character relevant to his home life – that he is a good and godly father. This is seen in that he has faithful children, that he has raised his children well. His ability to lead the family of God must be first demonstrated by his ability to lead his own children. Here the emphasis is on the idea that his children display godly living (they are faithful) and they do not live wild, disobedient lives (dissipation or insubordination).
Bible teachers and scholars debate if this refers only to the younger children of the Christian leader or if it also includes his adult children, out of the home. Because of the emphasis in Jewish culture on the age of responsibility of a child (expressed in the bar mitzvah ceremony), Paul probably had in mind only the younger children, those who were not yet accountable to God for their own lives and sins. It is true that a child may rebel in even a good home; but one must ask, is that rebellion because of the father or in spite of the father? How does the father respond to the rebellion?
The principle remains important: The godly leader demonstrates his leadership ability first in his own home. God recognizes that it is in the home where our Christianity is first demonstrated. Sometimes we find it easy to be a Christian everywhere but the home, but God’s standard still applies.
If you fall short in the measure of your home life (or even miserably fail), in Jesus there is for you grace, forgiveness, and strength for obedience. If these troubles mean that now is not the right time for you to have a place of Christian leadership, don’t despair. Live day by day in Jesus and in Him build maturity and the evidence of it in your life.
Does being the husband of one wife mean anyone who has been divorced cannot be a elder or leader
Denis, not necessarily. There are several questions to ask: (1) Was the divorce before they became a Christian? (2) Was the divorce for biblical grounds? (3) If there was sin involved, has the sin been truly repented of and a godly reputation rebuilt? So with these many questions, I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer. Hope this helps.